Is Early Decision Right for You?


It’s one of the first questions on your college application, but it’s one that requires a good deal of thought: will you be applying Regular Decision (RD) or Early Decision (ED) (and some schools offer even more choices)?  Read on for more information about the ED option at Johns Hopkins.

A view from the upper quad.
A view from the upper quad.

What is Early Decision?
The Early Decision plan at Johns Hopkins is a binding option for students who know that Johns Hopkins is their first-choice college. Applying ED means that you are committed to coming to Johns Hopkins if you’re admitted, and we’ll ask admitted ED students to remove their applications from any other schools. You should only apply to one college under an ED plan, although you may still apply Early Action or RD to other schools. Important things to note, and two of our most common questions about applying ED:

  • Is it easier to get in by applying ED? Not necessarily. While the admit rate is higher during ED, that can be a bit misleading. Keep in mind that most students who apply early have been working very hard in high school, have prepared a strong application, and are ready to apply by November 1. The application review process is the same and profiles of students admitted in ED and RD are nearly identical. We’re still looking for the students who are the best fit for JHU.
  • Does applying ED affect your financial aid package? No. Admitted students receive a financial aid offer along with their admission notification; the financial aid packages would look the same whether that student was admitted in December or April.

What are the pros of applying ED?

  • The deadline is sooner, so you will have your decision sooner. Since applications are due on November 1, we let students know of their decisions by December 15. The turn-around here is much quicker than the Regular Decision process because we have fewer applications to review. If you are admitted in ED, you’ve found your home and can focus on the rest of your senior year (yes, we will do a final transcript check!) If you are deferred or denied, you still have time to apply to other institutions.
  • We are looking at a smaller applicant pool. While we are still looking for the same qualities in our prospective students, there are far fewer applicants in ED. Last year, we had 1,400+ applicants in the Early Decision pool versus 20,000+ applicants in the Regular Decision pool.
  • You are making a statement. As we evaluate applicants, we are looking for students who are going to embrace being a Blue Jay and take advantage of all aspects of both academic and campus life. By signing the Early Decision Agreement, you are telling us that you are that person and clearly interested in being a part of our community.

So what’s the catch?

  • The agreement is a binding commitment. Therefore, you cannot change your mind. Many students have visited campus, had contact with students and faculty members, knew someone that went to JHU, etc., and know that it is the school for them. If you haven’t done your research to know that you definitely want to enroll here if admitted, you may want to consider applying RD instead.
  • It offers less time to show senior-year improvement. Maybe you struggled in a class last semester, or you’re just getting back on track after a slight academic decline.  Because all of your transcripts and information for ED needs to be submitted by November 1, you have less of an opportunity to show any improvements that happen in between November and January, when Regular Decision applications would be due. Some students will benefit from having the additional time to show an upward trend during their senior year through their mid-year grades.

How do you make the decision whether or not to apply ED to Johns Hopkins?

The most important thing about applying ED here—or anywhere, really—is that you’ve done your homework and you know that this is the place for you. Good ED candidates at Johns Hopkins know about our academic programs and want to attend an institution where they can combine a liberal arts education with an emphasis on research. They know about student and campus life, and are excited about the prospect of going to school in the city of Baltimore. Perhaps most importantly, they know that Johns Hopkins is a FIT for them, and that it goes two ways—they’ve done the research to know that they’re a good fit for our campus community, and they know that they have a lot to offer us. So, if Johns Hopkins is your number one choice—if you feel strongly that we’re the school for you and you’re the kind of student who knows you can make an impact here, in and outside of the classroom—and you are willing to make the commitment, then Early Decision is the way to go.

For more details about applying ED and a list of FAQ, visit

4 thoughts on “Is Early Decision Right for You?

  1. I have a question regarding the application and admissions process. I want to do Community College and then get into John Hopkins, but would I still need a letter of recommendation from someone and when would it be best to turn in my transcripts after finishing Community College?

  2. Hi Clare,

    Depending on how many credits you complete at another college, you would be applying as a transfer student. Transfer students have specific requirements for their application process that includes letters of recommendations. You can see a full list of deadlines and requirements here:, under “transfer applicants.”

  3. Hi! I have a question here. Some of my friends told me that if students were refused in the Early Decision, they would not be allowed to apply for the same school. Is that for real? Thanks!

  4. Hi Emelia,

    Some students who are not admitted Early Decision are deferred and re-evaluated as Regular Decision candidates. The Admissions Committee can also deny admission at the ED review. So, yes, in some cases that is true.

    Also, keep in mind that the Early Decision agreement is binding, so you may not apply to any other school under an early decision plan. (You may still apply to other schools under a nonbinding early action plan.) You, your parents, and your secondary school counselor will be required to sign an agreement stating that you will enroll at Johns Hopkins if admitted and withdraw any regular decision or early action applications to other schools. You will receive your decision by December 15, in time for you to make regular decision application deadlines for other schools.

    Hope that helps!

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